“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
Only sometimes they do…
We all know words really CAN hurt. When I think about the times I’ve been intentionally injured in the past several years, it’s not my body that aches. I don’t remember the exact sensation of physical pain, but I do remember every word that came along with each punishment and how I felt as they were said. In fact, things that were said when I wasn’t in physical pain seem to stick just as badly, if not worse. Bruises heal a lot faster than broken hearts.
But does it have to be that way? I remember babysitting a few little girls and having to stifle a laugh when one ran up to me crying, “She just called me a booger-wooger-snotter-water-iggy-piggy-wiggy!”
What if I called you a “booger-wooger-snotter-water-iggy-piggy-wiggy” — or said your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries? Would you be damaged for life? Or what if I called you a geek? Personally I’d consider that a compliment.
The words we hear about us only have as much power as we give them. If you called me a booger-wooger, it would only hurt if I believed you and believed a booger-wooger was actually a terrible thing to be.
That’s why words hurt most when they come from a trusted source. Stop trusting them, and their power dies. That goes for the words as well as for any person who consistently says them. It’s like the saying goes: if you can steel yourself against them, words really won’t hurt you.
That is, unless those words are your own. If you ARE the person saying cruel things, imagine losing so much trust; maybe even entire relationships. Or for some, just imagine losing your power and credibility. How would that feel? The words you say might not hurt you now, but they very well could cause lasting damage. Just a thought.
(thanks @fpnetwork for the inspiration)